The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) marked World Malaria Day on Wednesday, stressing on the need to get the global response against the mosquito-borne disease back on track in the face of stalled progress and dwindling funds.
Marking the April 25 World Malaria Day this year on the theme, “Ready to Beat Malaria”, the UN's health agency acknowledged the progress that has helped avert millions of malaria deaths, especially among children, since 2000.
In a video message for the annual day, WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the latest data showed that declining trend in malaria cases and deaths has stalled, and vital funding for malaria programmes has flatlined.
Gains will be lost
“If we continue along this path, we will lose the gains for which we have fought so hard,” he added.
A life-threatening disease, malaria is a preventable and curable disease and although more and more countries have eliminated the disease, challenges remain.
According to the UN health agency, in 2016, there were an estimated 216 million cases of malaria in 91 countries, an increase of 5 million cases over 2015, and malaria deaths reached 445,000, a slight decrease from 446,000 in 2015 but still a significant number.
The WHO African Region carries a disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden. In 2016, the region was home to 90 per cent of malaria cases and 91 per cent of malaria deaths.
Total funding for malaria control and elimination reached an estimated $2.7 billion in 2016. Contributions from governments of endemic countries amounted to $800 million, representing 31 per cent of funding.
The UN health chief called on countries and the global health community to close the critical gaps in the malaria response, and urged all partners to unite around a common goal: accelerating the pace of progress.
“Together, we must ensure that no one is left behind in accessing life-saving services to prevent, diagnose and treat malaria,” he said.